Morning update from St. Petersburg

Hunter-Reay says the Honda package is still too slow
Hunter-Reay says the Honda package is still too slow

Another beautiful day in sunny Southern Florida as the teams prepare for the opening race of the 2016 IndyCar season. The Honda drivers appear to be behind the 8-ball again in 2016 after Chevy swept the top-5 positions in qualifying Saturday.

2012 IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay has expressed his disappointment at how far off the pace he feels the Andretti Autosport-Honda package is compared with the best of the Chevrolets after he was 0.65sec slower than pole time as the fastest Honda.

He told Motorsport.com: "We do not have the sweet spot right now. We pulled out a lap or two there that put us sixth on the grid, but man, we have work to do."

"I'm not worried about the horsepower. HPD is doing a great job in the engine department. I'm more worried about overall grip and how to make the tires last.

"If you have a slight imbalance, it's going to be magnified, especially here. The way we had to set up the car in qualifying would make it wicked loose in race trim. We need to find a happy medium, but I don't know if it's going to be enough."

Will Power in the pole winning Chevy
Will Power in the pole winning Chevy

"This one (aero package) is more predictable, it doesn't throw the driver a lot of surprises that way, so that's good. When you come to a corner, brake really late and then snap off the brake, you know what it's going to do so you can hustle the car.

"It's not going to snap loose on you and then go to big understeer. For now, it does just one thing – which is go to big understeer."

"It's a new package and at Sebring we were dialing it in, but Sebring is Sebring and St. Pete and is a completely different animal.

"But we still have more drag. Phoenix [oval] was one thing, but even at Sebring we saw the difference. Chevy's numbers on the straight, and their relative wing angle told us they have the efficiency game down.

"We might be closer, than it looks at the moment, I don't know. But it took us half a year to figure out the last aero kit. Hopefully this one will be a shorter science project."

We will see how the Hondas do in race trim today. Maybe they will come forward as the tires wear and the fuel load changes. Mark C. reporting from St. Petersburg

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